Friday, March 29, 2013

Baked Eggs in Tomato and Avocado

This was a fun and delicious dish that I made for our latest pot-luck brunch. It looks absolutely gorgeous and tastes pretty excellent too. I found the recipe for baked eggs on The Curvy Carrot and kind of ad-libbed a bit and decided that eggs bakes in avocado would be just as delicious!


Vermont Cheddar Cheese, shredded 
Large egg
Parmesan Cheese, shredded 
Sea Salt and Pepper
Buttered Sourdough Toast, for dipping!


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Slice off the tops of each tomato, and cut around the inside perimeter of each tomato. Scoop out the seeds. Slice the avocado in half and remove pit, scoop out enough of the avocado so that your egg will fit nicely inside. Place the tomatoes (with tops) and avocado in a baking dish.
Press about 1-2 tablespoons of the Vermont cheddar in the bottom of each tomato/avocado - this helps the eggs lay flat, Break an egg into each, try to keep the veggies upright and all the egg whites inside. Season with salt and pepper. 

Bake the eggs for 10 - 15 minutes, they will just begin to set during this time (the whites will appear more opaque than clear), sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Bake for another 10 - 15 minutes, until the eggs are set to your desired consistency. 

I shimmied the baking dish to check for "jiggly-ness." When the eggs no longer jiggled I pulled them from the oven - the eggs were cooked all the way through, including the yolk. next time I'm going to try to get a more "poached" consistency with a runny yolk.

Ginger Rhubarb Crumble with French Vanilla & Ginger Ice Cream

I made this AMAZING dish for our latest brunch and it was SOOOO good. I'm a big fan of both rhubarb and ginger so when I stumbled upon this recipe from the Willams-Sonoma blog Blender, I couldn't wait to make it. I will however, take complete credit for the Vanilla Bean & Ginger ice cream - that was a product of my culinary genius, a complete Amanda original recipe.

Since cooking for brunch, early in the morning is quite the undertaking, I made the 2 components to the dish (the rhubarb mix, and the crumble topping) the night before and refrigerated. In the morning, the only thing I had to do was assemble and bake!


6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup chopped almonds
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 lb. rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 Tbs. peeled and minced fresh ginger
3/4 cup granulated sugar


1.  Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish.

2.  In a bowl, stir together the flour and brown sugar. Scatter 4 Tbs. of the butter over the top and, using your fingers, 2 knives or a pastry blender, work in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Add the almonds, crystallized ginger and salt and stir to combine. Set the topping mixture aside.

3.  In a large bowl, combine the rhubarb, fresh ginger and granulated sugar and stir to mix well. Transfer the rhubarb mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread in an even layer. Dot with the remaining 2 Tbs. butter. Sprinkle the topping mixture evenly over the fruit.

4.  Bake until the topping is deep gold and the juices are bubbling, about 1 hour.

French Vanilla & Ginger Ice Cream: Stand Mixer/Ice Cream Bowl Attachment needed

1 1/4 cups Half & Half
4 Egg Yolks
1/2 cup Sugar
1 1/4 cups Whipping Cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
Pinch of Salt 
1/2 cup Crystallized Ginger, cut into very small cubes

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat half & half until very hot but not boiling, stiring often, Remove from heat, set aside. 

Place egg yolks and sugar in mixer bowl with wire whisk attached. Turn to speed 2 and mix about 30 seconds or until well blended. Gradually add half & half, mix until blended. 

Return mixture to saucepan, cook over medium heat until small bubbles form around the edge and mixture is steamy, stirring constantly. DO NOT BOIL.

Transfer half & half mixture to a large bowl; stir in whipping cream, vanilla and salt.

Cover and chill, thoroughly, at least 8 hours (YES, 8 hours! I know it sounds obscene but the ice cream really won't set up right if you don't).

Assemble freeze bowl ice cream maker attachment on your stand mixer. Turn to STIR (or lowest speed). Pour chilled ice cream mixture into freeze bowl and continue to stir for 15-20 minutes. Add crystallized ginger with 5 minutes left in the process. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pitcher Perfect Bloody Mary

This recipe makes 6-8 large Bloody Mary's and is perfect for a large brunch crowd! It's adapted from a Real Simple Magazine recipe that is now a permanent staple on our fridge. We like to leave out extra horseradish, hot sauce and lots of garnishes so people can make their drink just the way they like it. We've experimented quite a bit with Bloody Mary Recipes and this is definitely the best.


6 cups Tomato Juice
2/3 cup Lemon Juice
2-4 tbs Fresh Prepared Horseradish (instructions below)
4 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
2-4 tsp Hot Sauce (we use Tabasco)
2 tbs Pepperoncini brine 
Black Pepper, to taste
Pickled whatever for garnish (Pepperoncini, okra, olives, etc.)


In a large pitcher combine all ingredients through black pepper. Serve in tall glasses over ice. First pour in desired amount of vodka, top with Bloody Mary Mix, garnish with Celery stalk, desired veggies/pickles, and black pepper.

Fresh Prepared Horseradish

1 lb horseradish root, scrubbed, peeled, cut into cubes
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 small turnip, peeled and cubed

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Process until uniform in texture, adding more vinegar if needed. Place in a glass jar, cover tightly and refrigerate.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dip and Bake Mozzarella Sticks

We invited some people over to watch NC State play Miami during the ACC tournament. I had to work that morning and would arrive home at tip-off and didn't have time to really plan any snack foods.

I walked into the grocery store without a clue as to what I was going to get and decided to pick up some hummus and veggie chips and some string cheese and breadcrumbs - I was determined to make some yummy Mozzarella sticks, I never enjoy the freezer section sticks as much as I do at a restaurant. This is the end result!


12 sticks string cheese ( I did half regular, half Jalapeno)
2 large eggs, whisked with 1 tbs milk
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup Italian Seasoned  Panko Breadcrumbs
Marinara sauce, for dipping


1.  In three separate shallow dishes, place egg/milk mixture, flour and breadcrumbs.

2.  Dip cheese sticks in flour, shaking off excess, then into the egg, then coat with the crumbs. Repeat for each cheese stick, placing them on a baking sheet.

3.  Freeze on sheet for 30 minutes (this is a must or they will melt before the crumbs get crispy).

4.  When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange oven rack in the bottom third of your oven. Bake 4 to 5 minutes, turn sticks over, and bake an additional 4-5 minutes, watching sticks closely so they don't melt. Serve hot with marinara sauce for dipping. 

I forgot the "watch sticks closely so they don't melt" part - so you can see in the photo that they're a little on the mushy side... but still absolutely delicious! A great game-time snack. 

Coconut Curry Noodles

I saw a gorgeous photo on Pinterest of a dish called Veggie Laksa and just had to try making it myself. Laksa is a wonderful coconut milk based noodle soup that hails from Malaysia. I got my inspirations from 2 other sources and kind of ad libed a bit, the result was fantastic!

This is a really yummy vegetarian dish that even hard-core carnivores like Aaron and myself enjoy. I've also been told that with the right soy sauce and curry paste that this meal can be made gluten free!

You might find my ingredients and instructions a little vague and confusing. I've been doing a lot of Asian inspired cooking lately so I had on hand some things that I added to the recipe that aren't in the typical pantry ( Sesame Oil, Fish Sauce). I think this dish would work well without some of those ingredients, as the the recipes I used for inspiration didn't call for some of these items. Have fun with it -- throw in whatever veggies, sauces & spices that you have lying around! 


Rice Noodles
2 cups Mixed Chopped Vegetables
     I used what I already had on hand:
     Red Bell Pepper, cut into strips
     Carrot, cut into strips 
     Zucchini, cut into strips
     Snow peas, cut diagonally
Cooking Oil - I used sesame oil to stick with
     the asian theme but olive oil would be fine.
1 Jar (4oz) Red Curry Paste + 1 cup water
    OR 1 Jar (14oz) of Red Curry Sauce
1 cup, Vegetable or Chicken broth
1 can Coconut Milk ( Lite works great!)
2 tbs Soy and/or Fish sauce
Handful Fresh Basil leaves


1.  Cook Rice Noodles according to package directions.

2.  Drizzle a bit of your cooking oil into your pan over medium-high heat. Empty about half the jar of the red curry paste into the pan (OR the entire jar of red curry sauce). Mix up.

3.  Add one cup water to the pan (ONLY if you're using curry paste) and one cup vegetable/chicken broth into the skillet. Add the carrots and bring to a boil. Cover and let it rumble for 2-3 minutes to soften the carrots. 

4.  Add the can of coconut milk and the remainder or your veggies. Taste and add more curry paste to your liking. Add soy/fish sauce, simmer until your vegetables are tender. 

5.  Divide noodles into bowls. Ladle curry/vegetable mixture over noodles. Top with fresh basil leaves. Serve hot! 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Black Pepper Caramel Shrimp

I found this recipe in the latest Cooking Light magazine which was dedicated to quick meals. This is definitely a keeper in the weeknight dinner category.


1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups diagonally cut snow peas
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons fish sauce


1. Combine 1 tablespoon water and cornstarch in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk; set aside. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shrimp; sauté 2 minutes or until shrimp begin to turn pink. Add peas, garlic, pepper, and salt; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat.

2. Combine broth, sugar, and fish sauce in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil; stir in cornstarch mixture. Cook 30 seconds or until mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Pour sugar mixture over shrimp. Return shrimp mixture to medium-high heat; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. 

I served this over Boil-In-Bag brown rice and threw 2 freezer section egg rolls in the oven while I cooked... 20 minuted later I had a delicious asian-inspired meal. +Aaron loved this dish -- which was expected because black pepper has it's own food group in his world. Definitely will be making this dish again and highly recommend it!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Beef Wellington

Beef  + Pastry = Awesome... duh

Apparently Beef Wellington is supposed to be difficult to make. I found the base for this recipe on a long time ago and have made the dish numerous times without any disasters.. which means that any rookie chef can pull this off. This recipe takes a bit of time than I would spend on a normal week-night dinner but it's super easy and the end result looks like something you've slaved over for hours!


1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup chopped parsley
4 (8 ounce) fillets beef tenderloin
1 (17.5 ounce) package frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 medium red onion, sliced into strips
1 egg + 1 tbs water, whisked


1. PARTIALLY thaw the puff pastry sheets. It still needs to be slightly frozen and stiff, when it thaws too much it's super difficult to deal with. For best results: move the pastry from the freezer to the fridge 1 hour before you want to start cooking. Right before you begin, remove the pastry from the refrigerate and take it out of the boxes and onto the counter to continue to thaw.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F

2.  In a large skillet over medium heat, combine the mushrooms, onion, wine, butter and parsley and saute until all the liquid is absorbed and the mixture resembles a paste. 

3. Cut the pastry squares in half diagonally (1 box of pastry should come with 2 squares, which makes 4 appropriately sized pastry triangles). Place steak (seasoned with salt & pepper if desired) in the center of pastry triangle, top with mushroom/onion paste, and wrap the pastry to cover the entire steak. Brush pastry with egg wash.

4. Bake steaks uncovered in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. (Note: They will be rare but will continue cooking while dish is sitting.)

We served this dish with some grilled asparagus and mashed cauliflower and it was big hit! I had some extra puff pastry left over this time because I needed to serve 5 people so I embellished the pastry with some hand cut leaves.

Hidden inside that fluffy pastry is a delicious, premium cut, perfectly cooked beef tenderloin... perfection!

Mashed Cauliflower with Greek Yogurt and Shallots

This is a really tasty, healthy and versatile side dish... and it was super easy to make! I was looking for an alternative to the typical meat and potatoes dish when +Aaron promised his family that I'd make Beef Wellington for them. I found this recipe on another blog and tweaked it just a smudge.


1 head of cau­li­flower (flo­rets only — no stems)
1 small, 6-8 oz con­tainer of greek yogurt
2 tbsp but­ter
1/2 cup grated parmi­giano reg­giano
4 cloves of gar­lic chopped/pressed
1/​2 small shal­lot chopped
1 chopped scal­lion for gar­nish
Salt, pep­per to taste


1.  In a medium pot, bring water to boil. Add cau­li­flower flo­rets to the boil­ing water and let cook for about 10 min­utes or until soft. Remove and drain.

2.  Combine the cau­li­flower with the greek yogurt, but­ter, gar­lic and shal­lots and blend with a mixer/food processor  until a creamy con­sis­tency. Add salt and pep­per and/or sea­son­ings of your choice and blend once more. Trans­fer to a bowl and while hot, mix in the parmi­giano reg­giano and top with scal­lions for garnish.

I will admit that this is the first time I found shallots in the grocery store! I usually give up and buy scallions instead because I thought they were the same thing. But this recipe called for both which convinced me that they were, in fact, 2 different onions. The shallots in this dish give quite the ZIP! Aaron said it tasted like a sour cream and onion potato chip - which is funny because there is no sour cream in the recipe. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Spinach Herb Pesto

I don't hate store-bought pesto.... I actually really enjoy it! I'll throw it on chicken or pasta and voila! Dinner is done -- but nothing compares to a good, homemade, fresh pesto. This version is adapted from Cooking Light Magazine and especially healthy! It's made with fresh spinach and a surprisingly small amount of oil for pesto.


4 ounces fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 large garlic cloves, chopped or pressed
2 tablespoons vegetable or chicken broth
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated


1. Place spinach in a microwave-safe bowl; cover bowl with plastic wrap. Microwave at HIGH 2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Remove plastic wrap; cool slightly.

2. Place spinach, almonds, and next 5 ingredients (through garlic) in a food processor. Process until chopped. Add broth, juice, and salt; pulse 5 times. With processor on, slowly pour oil through food chute; process until well blended. Scrape into a bowl; stir in cheese.

This recipe makes the perfect amount of pesto for 8 oz of pasta (4 servings). I served this with a nice wide linguine, some grilled chicken, fresh salad and my homemade Rosemary Olive Oil Bread. Now that's what I call a well-balanced meal.